As landlords, Alf and Jeannie Gizzo have a ready supply of tenants for their two rental properties.
Their fledgling real estate company, Earthwalker Property Solutions LLC, is one of just five Denver-area companies registered as a vendor to the Colorado Department of Corrections. That status gives them referrals of recent parolees looking for housing in exchange for an agreement to rent exclusively to ex-offenders.
"It is an extremely underserved market," said Jeannie Gizzo.
Upon checking applicants' backgrounds, most property owners will automatically reject parolees and ex-convicts. But the potential for trouble doesn't discourage the Gizzos, who say they're motivated by a desire to do good.
"It fits our values," said
The Gizzos only lease to nonviolent ex-offenders, whose crimes tend to be related to family, money or drugs and alcohol.
"We look at people on a case-by- case basis," Alf Gizzo said.
Statewide, there are 13 landlords who are registered vendors to the Department of Corrections. Those landlords own a total of 27 eligible homes, according to Heather Elliott, the department's manager of offender programs.
"Obviously, a landlord can rent to anyone," Elliott said. Vendor status is not required to do that. But by registering with the state, property owners such as the Gizzos get referrals from pre-release specialists working within the prisons and community re -entry specialists working with parole officers.
In exchange, landlords agree to various terms, including renting exclusively to ex-offenders on parole. Prison officials think it's better that way, because parolees tend to be in the same boat, often monitored for substance abuse and visited regularly at home by parole officers.
The Department of Corrections provides a "template" of rules for the landlord. If the rules aren't enforced, the landlord won't get tenant referrals in the future.
No smoking indoors or overnight guests, for example, are rules are suggested by the DOC.
Many tenants are banned from using drugs and alcohol, but it depends on terms of the individual's parole. The Gizzos have established some additional rules of their own. Tenants must clean up after themselves and shovel the walk, for example.
One of the Gizzos' homes sits on a quiet, working-class street in southwest Denver. Five men share the 1,000-square-foot home, and resident David Ling said it's not difficult getting along with his roommates.
The key is to "leave my problems at the door" when arriving home, said Ling, 37, who has been
The Denver Post